Digital Camera Buying Guide 2018

So you've decided that you're ready to up your photography game. Maybe your phone photos just aren't cutting it, or maybe you've always wanted to explore photography on a deeper level and watching your kids grow up faster than you can capture has motivated you to take the next step. Whatever your reasons, purchasing a new camera can be overwhelming - there are certainly a lot of really great choices on the market right now and the options grow and change nearly every day with newer and greater technology. What's best for you? What do you really need? I've put together this guide to help you sort through it all. As you're considering what you need/want/can afford, always keep in mind that no matter what camera you're shooting with, having a vision and knowing how to use your camera to its fullest potential are the keys to taking great pictures. You don't need the latest and greatest to take great photos. 

Camera Categories

To simplify the process a little, I've separated this list into three categories and selected a few recommended cameras from each category. 

Consumer - Consumer cameras are generally considered to be entry-level cameras. With these cameras, you won't have some of the features that are more important to professionals, but you'll gain some convenience and obviously this category will be the least expensive of the three. These cameras will be familiar to those who have had “point and shoot” cameras in the past and generally do very well in "auto". They'll have some ability for the photographer to take control, but there are limits on how deeply one can tweak.

Prosumer - These are the mid-range cameras, in both price and features. Cameras in the prosumer level have many more features than the consumer level and are a good option if you can afford to go this route, because they'll give you room to grow into the features. These cameras might be full frame or crop-sensor (only pay attention to that if you're considering going pro), but have a lower megapixel count than the next level up. The thing about megapixels these days is that every camera has more than enough, unless you're planning on printing your images poster-sized or larger. 

Professional - Professional cameras will have all of the features available. They're expensive and there's absolutely no need to go this route unless you are in fact, going to become a professional photographer. Even as an active amateur, it's my opinion that you just don't need all of these features to shoot great images, and since I'm trying to reach beginner and intermediate amateurs, I'm not going to delve into pro camera suggestions.

Consumer Camera Suggestions

Canon EOS Rebel T7i

Canon Rebel T7i $749  - Nowadays, consumer cameras are almost synonymous with the Canon Rebel line. Rebels are a great place to start with shooting DSLR. You'll get a lot for your money and some really great features. My first DSLR was a Rebel. 

  • 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor. (Crop sensor)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth.
  • High-Speed continuous shooting at up to 6.0 fps.
  • Creative filters built into the software.
  • Vari-Angle Touch Screen LCD.
Sony Alpha a6000

Sony Alpha a6000 $498  - Sony mirrorless cameras have a huge following, and for good reason. Mirrorless cameras are lighter and smaller than DSLRs and all the major players continue to make improvements. Many pros are leaving their DSLRs behind and going mirrorless all the way. The Sony Alpha line of cameras is a great option. The a6000 has been around for a few years, because it's a great little workhorse. Currently priced below $500 with a 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens you get a lot for your money with this combo. This is a great option for someone who wants to be able to take their camera with them everywhere without having to carry a gigantic camera bag.

  • 24 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and Focus Sensitivity Range :EV 0 to EV 20 (at ISO 100 equivalent with F2.8 lens attached).
  • ISO 100-25600 (expandable to 51200).
  • Hybrid AF with 179-point focal plane phase-detection and 25 contrast detect points.
  • Up to 11 FPS continuous shooting.
  • 3-inch tilting LCD with 921,000 dots.
  • OLED electronic viewfinder with 100% coverage and 1.4 million dots.

Prosumer Cameras Suggestions

Nikon D7200

Nikon D7200 $1000  - If you want to step up to the prosumer range, Nikon’s D7200 is a great camera. Image quality with this camera is pretty close to professional while priced more moderately. Nikon calls the D7200 the “the star of Nikon's DX-format line-up” and I don't disagree. You'll get many more features than with a consumer body, and if you’re looking to upgrade from something more low-level (like the Nikon D3400), the D7200 might be the perfect fit!

  • 24.2 MP DX-format CMOS image sensor.
  • No Optical Low-Pass Filter (OLPF).
  • 51 point autofocus system.
  • 6 frames per second (fps) shooting capacity.
  • EXPEED 4 image processing; ISO Sensitivity: ISO 100 - 25,600.Lens mount: Nikon F mount, (with AF coupling and AF contacts).
  • Built in Wi-Fi and Near Field Communication (NFC) for instant sharing.
Canon 6D Mark ii

Canon 6D mark ii $1700 - If you're a Canon shooter, maybe looking to upgrade from a consumer level Canon, the 6D Mark II is a good choice. This camera does boast a full-frame sensor, but remember what I said earlier - unless you're going pro, please don't pay that too much mind. That being said, The 6D Mark II has many other features that make it worth the money.

  • 26.2 Megapixel Full-frame CMOS Sensor.
  • Optical Viewfinder with a 45-point All Cross-type AF System.
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF with Phase-detection & Full HD 60p.
  • DIGIC 7 Image Processor, ISO 100-40000.
  • Vary-angle Touch Screen, 3.0-inch LCD.